Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Son of God" the Movie and Its New Age Connection

It was not long time ago when I was on vacation in the Philippines and I finally got the chance to see the movie "Son of God" which is critically acclaimed to be a "good Christian film" (well, depending on who makes the critique). Obviously, it's about the life of Jesus Christ, His ministry, His death and resurrection. Even prior to the film's baptism in cinemas, you can hear people raving about it - praises are heaped into it - with its stunning casting, technical excellence and even endless compliments for the producers who they say got people's interests in the biblical Jesus stirred up.

On the flip side, people especially Christians have a different perspective on the film that doesn't quite agree with the script - if only to be based on its purest literal context from the Bible. As if to feed moviegoers of their imagination of the typical Jesus, there is no shortage of it as his bouncy long locks already satisfies one's fantasy. One particular scene in the film though that doesn't escape a supposedly discerning Christian's prying eyes is the misrepresentation and utter omission of the true account of the death of Lazarus. What is annoyingly noticeable is Mary Magdalene portrayed as being in ubiquity with Jesus. In each scene she is shown always with Jesus and the apostles.

Typically, a  school of thought conveys that a prostitute will always be labeled as one for the rest of her life - though the Bible affirms that whoever is in Christ becomes a new creation (1 Peter 5:7). And Mary Magdalene's inclination to be always with the company of men seemed to be what the producers of the movie wanted to convey in the story. Further proof of its ambiguity is Mary Magdalene had no other significant roles in the biblical account, save for her mob-eager-to-stone-her and graveyard scenes where she tearfully inquired of Jesus' supposed stolen body. This is only one of the so-called blatant loopholes in the story. Below is a scene of the resurrection of Lazarus as portrayed in the film. Then, let's find out how distinctly it was rewritten as opposed to the true biblical account.

In John 11: 38 - 44, we find these following accounts:

Jesus therefore again groaning in himself comes to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay on it. Jesus said, Take you away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, said to him, Lord, by this time he stinks: for he has been dead four days. Jesus said to her, Said I not to you, that, if you would believe, you should see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank you that you have heard me. And I knew that you hear me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that you have sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them, loose him, and let him go.

Compare this scene from the 1977 TV mini series, "Jesus of Nazareth"

The Bible explicitly says that it is outside of the grave where Jesus prayed to the Father - commanded the dead Lazarus to come out of the grave in a loud voice - and Lazarus came out still wrapped in linen clothes, his hands and feet still bound with grave clothes. So, this is exactly what you wanted to see in the movie. But it just did not happen. The Jesus in the film however went straight inside the grave with Martha in tow, prayed there, kissed the unwrapped Lazarus on the forehead and voila! - his eyes suddenly opened and the three casually emerged from the cave.

These are but some of notable inconsistencies and loopholes I found in the movie. There are numerous others but too long to narrate. Needless to say, I came out of the cinema thoroughly unhappy and disappointed. Is it not time to buckle up our loin's girth even more tightly after seeing this widely acceptable platform for deception?

If one wonders why the producers opted not to follow the true biblical account portrayed in most of its scenes; let's take a peek at who the producers are if only our curiosity requires us to investigate. Perhaps it has something to do with their personal backgrounds, religious affiliation, etc.? Here is what we found:

The producers' background
Roma Downey is most well-known to be one of the producers, and the one usually at the forefront of this project. She also happens to be an actress and the one who portrays the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus in the film. She was also the co-producer of 'The Bible' miniseries. In 1999, she released her one and only New Age music album called 'Healing Angel' under RCA Records.  Roma became popular for her role as an angel named Monica in the American TV series 'Touched By An Angel'. She and and her husband Mark Burnett are thought to be Catholics, but it's no secret that she also attended the University of Santa Monica, a private graduate school founded in 1976 by the New Age spiritual guru Roger Delano Hinkins, an educator, author, and lecturer who is also known as John-Roger, who was also the founder of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA). Roma graduated with a master's degree in Spiritual Psychology.

Roma Downey has once been quoted in an interview early this year saying,“As someone who has been on a spiritual journey for many years, it seems a natural extension of that work. The skills I’m learning will ultimately qualify me to be a therapist.” 

Roma, who is from Malibu, is also into reading new age authors. From that same interview she said, "My kids go to school about a 40-minute drive away. I’m open to the group’s opinion about what we listen to on the way there. On the way back, I get my own selections — books on tape by Eckhart Tolle, Tony Robbins…My husband says I’m so self-realized I’m practically levitating.

And in July of 2011, OM Times Magazine released it's special 2nd anniversary edition with Roma Downey on the cover. OM is a New Age Magazine with 'Co-creating a more conscious lifestyle' as their slogan. You can't get any new age-er than that!

So there you go! The producer of the movie herself declares her leanings if not affiliation with New Age group and practically she adheres to its teachings and even "proudly levitating". And that explains why we get this kind of twisted movie supposedly lifted from the Bible. But the truth is, it is to condition the minds of the public that truth is parallel to what is half-truth, and right to what is almost right.

New Age belief is demonic and be warned about it
New Age and  mysticism are quietly creeping inside every Christian home. We should always be sober and vigilant, always comparing everything to the light of the Word of God. We are in the last days where deception abounds and if we do not soldier up as Christians we too are easily dragged into the trap of subtle deception. Let us all guard our faith, as the apostle Peter warns us "to be sober and vigilant for the enemy is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8) Jesus further warns us to "take heed that no man deceive you" (Matthew 24:4).

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Get Rich Quick Online: Booby Trap For Christians

If you are active on social media such as Facebook, chances are your wall or private messaging has been awash with invitations to join online business ventures that their unabashed persistence gets so pretty annoying. Not to be content with an invitation for you to like certain pages so that you get to understand the dynamics of how to become rich solely via Facebook, your posts could also be targets as platform for never-ending business links that they pass as comments. And that's the last thing you would want to see underneath your posts. Others may go the extra mile by brazenly posting countless links on your wall if they find out you are not savvy enough to control your setting. While it is best to ignore them, most people may take offense at it for this rude and intrusive behavior.

A Christian Dilemma
As Christians, your are thrown into a dilemma of how to handle the situation without them getting offended. It is this easy if those invites come from unbelievers or virtual friends whom  you actually don't know: hit the block button if this fellow has nothing but business blah blah, get-rich-schemes posts that you see 24/7 on your home feed. (Expect that they live off on their generous time to get people on board their schemes and that it doesn't bother them a bit how people would react to such an aggressive intrusion.)

Here lies the conflict: what if that person is a fellow Christian whom you see in a weekly or bi-weekly basis because you belong in one church? So, how would you deal with such an enormous burden of confronting him or her that you don't share with his/her passion to get rich that easy? I am in no way undermining people who only desire to uplift their economic situation in life - that is a noble objective - everyone strives to do the same - as every human being naturally does. Most unbelievers do not see anything wrong with it - that is very normal to them, but in a Christian perspective, how is this even a thing of real value and priority? Does the Word of God fall short in admonishing us believers that "contentment with godliness is great gain"?

Christian brother or sister in a workplace scenario:
"Everyone in the office knows that I am a born-again Christian - I've spoken loud and clear about my faith, and my boss knows that too. People like me have a reputation of being harmless and trustworthy. Easily I earn respect for being "closer to God than anyone in the group". I started with very few and select group of people as my Facebook friends. I post beautiful Bible verses daily and get tons of likes for it. I have always wanted to invite more people into the church - after all I have read about the Great Commission and wanted people to experience the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Things drastically changed when I got stuck on a video sent by one of my friends that encourages online business with no fuss at all. Simply arm yourself with substantial time on Facebook and start befriending as many people as you can. "That is quite normal for a starter - the harder you work and spend time more online, the better and bigger the result" was some sort of encouragement from my top line. Before I know it, I was deep in a plunge as financial gains albeit insignificant come in a trickle. I heeded their advice and got fairly good result with my "persistence and hard work". This time, I almost breached the Facebook limit allowed for my number of friends.

Of course I would argue that I am not in sin by reaping the benefits of my hard work. It's just that, I have neglected my prayer time and even at work when there is time to read the Word of God,  my mind is preoccupied with something else. I hate to accept it but my online preoccupation has impacted my spiritual life negatively, so much so that instead of sharing the gospel of Jesus to other people I tend to encourage them instead to join my network. Well, I can still compensate my lack in that department by sparing my few hours to church on Thursdays to practice so that I am still visible during worship service on Fridays." Really?

Church leadership's failure to address the issue
What if the pastor and elders fail to see there is something unhealthy going on in your walk with God? Are they not your Facebook friends that they fail to notice your "entrepreneurial gifts" through your posts? Or perhaps they honestly do not see anything hideous with your posts so that admonishing you as a brother is the last thing they ought to do? Or maybe they feel reluctant to enlighten you so as not to offend you? And worst what if you are not alone? in fact there are many of you in the church and some are elders, pastors, 'prophets' or prophetesses' that are into this kind of activity.

Why entice people to the possibility of becoming millionaires if they join your business network online? Is God's provision not enough for all our needs?  This is no ordinary invitation for it is shockingly coming from a supposed prophetess who is known in this Christian community. You will see in her Facebook posts  "wealthcoming" her new recruits - some are even pastors. Seriously, have we gone that low in our Christian walk? What is more shocking is that, I have yet to hear church leaders rebuking and being rebuked for this ungodly activity. 

The apostle Paul's warning
The apostle Paul was very clear about his warnings concerning "false teachers and the love of money" lumped into one as being inseparable in their significance to Christian doctrine. In his first letter to Timothy chapter six, the apostle Paul rejected other teachings that have pervaded the church apart from the gospel that he received from the Lord Jesus Christ. He underlined the virtue of "godliness with contentment as great gain" as opposed to others whose focus are earthly gains. 1 Timothy 6:10 is a verse often misquoted by many " as money being the root of all evil, instead of the love of money as the root of all evil. There is absolutely nothing wrong with money for it is a necessity in life, but when your love for it supersedes its necessity then expect evil to abound. 

Wake up Christians! It's time to go back to basic. Read, study and search the Word of God so that we fall not into diverse temptations from the enemy. He will use even matured people in the faith, even the one next to you or even the one you admire the most in the church. Personally, I cringe seeing this activity being prevalent anywhere among church people, and if by any indication, I do not see its peril being exposed in churches anytime soon. And because we desire financial prosperity more than spiritual discernment, we will duly reap what we rightfully deserve, at a cost.

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